Great Himalayan Trail on schedule to open in 2011

Way back in February of this year we told you about the Great Himalayan Trail, an epic hike more than 2800 miles in length that will eventually wind its way through the mountainous regions of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. The trek, which is expected to take roughly 150 days to hike end-to-end, is scheduled to officially open in early 2011, although there are still some challenges to over come before the boots of adventurous travelers begin to walk the route.

2011 is being called Nepal’s Tourism Year, and the country is gearing up to promote itself as the top adventure travel destination on the planet. The GHT will play a role in that celebration, as roughly 1200 miles of the trail passes through the country, and while it is expected to officially open in January or February of next year, some are already questioning if that will happen as planned. Ang Tshering Sherpa, a former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, says that the trail has mostly been promoted and built by private sector dollars thus far, and he is calling on the Nepali government to inject some much needed funds to help launch the trail in early 2011.Without those funds, he feels that the GHT won’t get the recognition that it deserves to draw trekkers to the route.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Tourism Board named American Sean Burch as one of its Goodwill Ambassadors this past week. The 40-year old Burch recently completed an endurance run across Nepal, from the border of India to Tibet, that followed 1250 miles of the GHT, in just 49 days. He will now help to promote the epic new trail abroad, while also encouraging economic development in the villages through which the trail passes.

That economic development will be important for the future of the GHT. On other trekking routes in the region hikers find teahouse lodges and simple restaurants every few hours along the route, but there are large sections of the GHT where those amenities are not yet present. But the trail will provide opportunities for enterprising individuals to build these places, which should help the economies of each of the countries that the GHT passes through.

Trekkers interested in hiking some or all of the trail, should check out for more information on the available routes and what to expect when it officially opens next year. Start planning your trek now and be sure to let your boss know you’re going to need 150 days off to make the hike.